by Rick Langenberg:
How can you argue with success?
In past years whenever the Cripple Creek and Victor Gold Mining Company (CC&V) unveiled expansion pursuits and project life extensions, meeting halls were often filled with concerned and sometimes angry residents. I generally tried to stay in the back of the room in case a quick exit was needed.
A couple of years ago, the company even encountered a lively feud with a previous group of Cripple Creek elected leaders, when plans were announced for possibly mining at the doorstep of Bob Womack’s old hangout. For a brief period, a slug fest appeared imminent between former Mayor Dan Baader and some CC&V officials. A truce was then crafted, including CC&V giving the city a hefty check for a future rec center project. (The fate of that mysterious rec center is one question the city loves to avoid).
But during the latest CC&V expansion update forum, hardly a concern was raised, other than minor details about the new highway realignment and the prospects of underground mining and even traveling between the two communities underground. More importantly, CC&V officials have made it clear the company will be here for the long haul, covering the life span of most residents.
With the reclamation required, the Cresson mining project could be an integral part of the district until 2041. CC&V community affairs manager Jane Mannon has described the “out of sight, out of mind” scenario as one reason for no big public gripes. Still, she and other CC&V officials admit the complaint list is much less than what some would have anticipated months ago.
Anyone taking a drive between Cripple and Victor these days can see first-hand the massive mine-related infrastructure work occurring. Current and future plans have been unveiled for a new leach facility, high grade mill, recovery plant, new highway alignment, underground mining development and more. The total price tag of the new expansion is expected to nearly hit the $600 million mark. Already, according to Mannon, CC&V has invested a healthy bunch of change, exceeding the $120 million mark into the venture that has already cleared all regulatory hurdles. The new highway realignment, providing a more direct route between the two communities, should be completed this fall.
And one big benefit for Cripple Creek residents is that the North Cresson project they once feared, along the hillside across from the Heritage Center, won’t occur until 2017. Maybe by that time, the city can gets its act together regarding the rec center it promised local residents. (Maybe they can turn the heritage facility into a rec hub). Or, possibly some new attractions could be added at the Heritage Center that complement the new CC&V expansion.
I still believe the new mine expansion could be the best asset for the Heritage Center, which definitely needs a boost. Heritage tourism, those fated terms that de-railed a previous CC administration, could actually become an actual reality and take on new meaning.mStill, in the past this type of expansion would have left some folks screaming, ready for a pitch fork revolt.
However, CC&V has been a solid economic and community player for a number of years. Moreover, they have avoided some of the big environmental and historic preservation controversies that plagued past mine owners. Whoever thought that when gold prices were hovering at around $250 an ounce, and CC&V was staring at huge losses, the current expansion plans would move forward and CC&V would bustle with the potential of having 600 employees.